Beginners Guide Overview
OK, so you'd like to get started. What do you need to do?
- Find a computer to run Squeezebox Server (aka SlimServer before V7) on.
- Download and install Squeezebox Server.
- Create a music library.
That gets you some music: now you need something to play it on. Classically this will be:
- At least one Squeezebox of some kind (Note that "Squeezebox" includes "Squeezebox Receiver" and "Transporter" for the purposes of this guide).
- A network to connect the Squeezebox to the computer.
- A set of speakers connected to the Squeezebox via some audio equipment.
... although you could also use a software player such as SoftSqueeze. As this comes with the (free!) Squeezebox Server download, a lot of people start out with this before they decide to buy their Squeezebox(es).
Other options to look at include:
- Using Internet radio instead of your own library.
- Extending functionality with plugins.
- Using the MySqueezebox.com service to run without a Squeezebox Server.
A computer for Squeezebox Server
The short answer to this is that it can be almost anything you fancy. Windows, Linux or Mac OS/X. Laptop or desktop. Old one, new one. There are some tasks which you might drag a bit when you have a large library on a particularly old computer, but on the whole most things will work.
Please remember that the Squeezebox on its own is a very dumb ("slim"!) device and can't do anything at all unless it is connected to a server of some kind - either your own local Squeezebox Server or MySqueezebox.com.
Perhaps more important than the computer is the disc storage: you may well need a LOT of it.
One option which is often discussed but perhaps more rarely executed is to use an intelligent storage device (NAS) which can both store all your files AND run Squeezebox Server.
This is all discussed in more detail in Beginners Guide To Servers.
Download and install Squeezebox Server
This is all covered nicely at Squeezebox Server, where you will find installation guides, and various other notes and documents to help you.
When downloading Squeezebox Server, its probably best to start with the current official version from Download LMS 7.7.3. This being the fast-moving world of Open Source, however, you should be aware that there many be many other versions around at any time. The latest bug fixes and minor enhancements are collected in a nightly release which you can also freely access, and there is also usually a less stable beta version under development. Try the latter for the latest and greatest, but don't be surprised if it has bugs. The nightly release, though, is pretty safe - even though its not been officially released yet, its often a good idea to try this out especially if you suspect you have found a bug.
In any case, if asking for help anywhere (via support, or the forums), be sure to let people know exactly which version you have, as well as the platform (Windows, etc) you are running it on.
Creating a music library
If you already have a pile of MP3 files on your computer, you are ready to go. Just point Squeezebox Server at it and you can play it all. If you have an existing iTunes library, again all you have to do is tell Squeezebox Server and you are ready to go - see notes below. However, if you are not already sorted out in this department then you have some choices to make and some work to do.
Your music will normally come from one of two places:
- Your own CD collection, which you will need to "rip" to create the digitised music files.
- Downloads (legal, please!), which you have bought from somewhere on the Internet.
If you are ripping your own, you will need to choose which of the many file formats (MP3, FLAC, WMA, etc) you will be creating. You will need a program to do the ripping, and you will need to make various other decisions (e.g. about the quality of music you want).
If you are downloading, be careful! Some downloaded music has "DRM" (Digital rights Management) stuff attached to it to control where and when you can play it, and this can mean not on a Squeezebox.
You will also probably need to get some software to adjust the "tags" in these music files to meet your needs, and you will have to decide how to organise your files.
- Beginners Guide To Tagging and, if classical music matters, Beginners Guide To Classical
- Beginners Guide To Organising
Experiment with SoftSqueeze
Once you have Squeezebox Server and a few files in a library, you are nearly ready to go. If you want to dip your toe in the water without spending any money, install SoftSqueeze and give it a go! Help is available in the Squeezebox Server web interface. Note that you might also need to download or update Java to make this work if you don't already have it on your computer. In addition, the Java MP3 Plugin will likely be necessary.
You can also easily install SoftSqueeze on more than one computer on your network, so you can see how your server software and the user interfaces all work together.
Setting up a network
You probably already have some kind of network: If you have a broadband connection, you will have a router which may well have some spare switch ports into which you can plug your Squeezebox. Or you might have a wireless network, which is fine as long as you have the Wireless version of Squeezebox (all newer models support 802.11g).
There is a very good chance that you will plug it in/turn it on and it will just work. In case it doesn't, or you need more help to get started, try Beginners Guide To Networks. You will also find advice there on setting up a firewall.
If you don't have a network and need help designing one, see Network Design.
See Hardware comparison for details of the various Squeezebox models. There are links on from there to details, including Owners Guides, for installation and setup.
Note that you can connect multiple Squeezeboxes to one Squeezebox Server - one per room if you like! And then either have them all play their own thing, or synchronize any or all of them together.
The Squeezebox firmware is automatically updated when required by a new version of Squeezebox Server - see firmware update for more details.
Connecting your Squeezebox to your speakers
You need to connect the outputs of your Squeezebox to the inputs of your audio amplifier in just the same way that you now would connect a CD player.
For more information, read the Beginners Guide to Connecting your Speakers.
The usual interface to Squeezebox Server is through the web interface. This is meant to be self-explanatory, so won't be explored in detail here. A few simple tips, however:
- You can control Squeezebox Server from any computer on your network by pointing its browser at
http://serverhostname:9000(substitute your own Squeezebox Server's hostname!).
- If you want to change the appearance, you can select one of several skins by going to
server settings - Interface (SC7: Settings - Interface).
- To check your server version, go to server settings and scroll to the bottom of the page.
- You can use a PDA (handheld) to control Squeezebox Server... try the "handheld" skin. Point its browser at
Since so many people use iTunes, and there are several ways in which Squeezebox Server can interact with iTunes, this is worth a discussion in its own right. The short answer is "tell Squeezebox Server you are using iTunes, and off you go", but of course there is a bit more than that.
For the full story visit Beginners Guide To iTunes.
Squeezebox Server is an Open Source development, a collaboration between a lot of people spread around the world. Some are employed by Logitech/Slimdevices, most are not. One of the benefits of this approach is that the whole software system is completely open, and the most visible impact of this is to be seen over at the Plugins page, where you will see an incredible collection of add-on modules ("plugins") which extend and adapt the Squeezebox Server/Squeezebox capabilities in all sorts of ways.
If you have some Perl knowledge, you can even write your own. Just make sure you share the results with the rest of us!
A playlist is, at its simplest, just a list of music files that you can save, name, and reload at any time. In the Web interface or via the Remote,
Browse Playlists to see the list of playlists.
Whenever you create a list of songs to play by pressing
Add, you are creating a playlist for a particular player. If you really like the list you've just made, you can save (and name) it so you can get back to it later.
Although you can create a playlist via either the Web interface or the Remote UI, they are best edited through the Web interface where you can easily move things up and down the list.
There is nothing very special about the playlist files themselves: they are plain text, stored as .m3u or other formats files in a folder specified in "server settings", and can easily be imported from many other programs.
A playlist containing just the URL of a favourite Internet radio station is a good way of easily tuning in to it.
Scanning your library
Of course, you will want to keep adding new music to your Squeezebox Server library... or perhaps you will have updated the tags in your files. In either case, Squeezebox Server needs to be told that something has changed in the library so that it can update its database. This is done by the scanning process. You can do this as a one-off, or schedule Squeezebox Server to rescan, say, every night.
- Tip: if you've just added a single album, you can force Squeezebox Server to read the files (and add it to the library) without doing a complete rescan just by browsing to it using Browse Music Folder...
- Pandora: You can use Pandora via the MySqueezebox.com. See Pandora setup.
- Rhapsody: You can play Real Rhapsody through the Squeezebox. See Rhapsody setup.
- Squeezebox Server plugins
- Guide To Tools
- Index to main commands and settings
- How to get the Best Audio Quality for a focus on getting the best possible audio quality